I’m going to take a guess. My guess is this: you have more than a few ‘friends’ in your life that you seriously need to kick to the curb and drive away from at blinding speed. We’ve all had those people in our life haven’t we? That person that we want so badly to do well in their life that they’re able to move on and succeed someplace. Someplace like…Morocco.
OK, that seems mean. We’re taught as Christians to love people, care for the poor, make disciples and all that Jazz – but are we told to tolerate energy suckers and joy crushers in our close circle of friends? You know the type of person I’m talking about. Those one or two people that as soon as you’re around them make you feel like your headbutting a porcupine. It’s painful. And I’m not sure it’s healthy for us to keep these people so close. While fantasizing about them getting a job transfer to Morocco seems a little harsh, a little distance from your inner circle of friendom may be one of the wisest moves you can make.
Here are three ways to excommunicate these fraudulent friends from the ones who would go to battle with you:
1) Prize the friendship above the opportunities. Growing up in Orange County with a plethora of entertainment options and a steady climate allowed me to quickly learn a valuable friendship principle: ‘a better opportunity comes before a better friendship’. I know we made plans to have coffee and catch up on Tuesday, but how could you pass up on the opportunity to go to the beach instead? Sure it’s always there and we live less than a mile from it, heck we’ve even been together a bunch of times this week already. Makes sense to go on Tuesday though.
This type of friend is ripe for the excommunication block. With a consistent track record of…well…being inconsistent there is only so much we can take in our schedule. And make no mistake, true friends schedule time for those that they care about. What’s even more incredible, is that they show up. Opportunities fall by the wayside, and their plans are actually shifted around meeting with you. Promote these friends, you’ll be glad you did.
Proverbs 18:24 – “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. “
2) Hold up the mirror. I’m not sure there is anything that makes people squirm as much being confronted with their own standards and commitments. Today, commitments are broken and cast aside as easily as a clothing accessory. Imposter friends put them on when it suits the situation, and discard them if it doesn’t fit in with their own plans. But this isn’t the ex-communicable offense. The offense comes when they are confronted with their own commitments, their own words. They explain away their reasons for the 4th time, or are simply incredulous as to what all the fuss is about. In short: following through is an option.
There is a great story in the Bible in 2 Samuel 12 where Nathan is having a conversation with David about a hypothetical, sinful situation. Nathan tells a story about a man of power taking something extremely valuable from a man of lesser stature. In reality David had done this very thing in real life, effectively ending another man’s life and committing a terrible sin. At the end of the story David is furious at the man of power in the story for doing such a terrible thing, to which Nathan famously states: “You are that man!” Right then and there David admitted his guilt, and acknowledged his sin – does your imposter friend do that?
Proverbs 27:5-6 “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. “
3) Examine the Benefits This may be an odd way to think about friendships, but true friends add value to each other’s lives. If you can live without these friends (and have asked them if they know how good the weather in Morocco is this time of year), they aren’t adding value to your life. As a Christian I would say that the most important values I find in my great friends are that they push me closer to God, they care about my family, and they show up. But most importantly, I would feel a bit lost in life without them. These are all tremendous benefits. In return I easily reciprocate. Not out of repayment or even loyalty – but out of love.
Your inner circle of great friends must benefit you in some way. It may sound harsh or even cold but we all only have so much time, and it must be spent wisely. It is pivotal that you excommunicate the friends from your inner circle that do not add value. This inner circle is your place of refuge, release, and refreshment. Those who reside there must be chosen wisely, and have proved their worth. A terrible friend must never hold a seat of influence, at the table of our life.
Proverbs 13:20 – “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. “
If, after all of these trials, your friend has measured up and passed these three criteria – congratulations, they’ve failed the excommunication. You have with you, a true, genuine friend. Hold on to them tightly, for they are of the rarest variety of precious resources in this world. You may dig and scour the rest of your days and not unearth another quite like them.